Sunday, December 31, 2017

Iced In- Happy New Year!

Updated from a prior winter storm blog, but still a good read if you love antiques and art. 

Happy New Year - In with the Old!
 “He uses his old inkpot and his old brush, but he paints new things.” 

                              --translated from a Japanese scroll hanging in my laundry room

 It’s a lot easier to start something new than to re-make something old. That’s why there are so many churches…so many new houses…new gizmos…new nations…new beginnings. Re-vamping the old is much harder. But to me, it's better. This blog will tell the story of taking a well-loved 55 year old antique show in Fort Worth, Texas and re-making it into a shining star for the future.

You have to be a pretty good antique show to throw open your doors for 55 years. Once a small, prestigious, high-quality Americana antique show at Will Rogers Memorial Center, the  Fort Worth Show is now a mega-event with antiques and art of all eras and styles.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday March 2,3,4, 2018, look for Pre-Columbian to Mid-Century Modern. There will be art and antiques from France, England and Italy. There will be American Colonial and Spanish Colonial. Look for Garden, Vintage, Industrial, Retro, Textiles and Jewelry, as well the top-quality American primitives for which the show has been loved all these years by a strong regional audience. There will even be a diverse selection of contemporary art. We mix it up!

Why Me?
I first exhibited in the show in 1998 as Hot Tamale Antiques. It was difficult to get into. The owner JJ Frambes was tough. She vetted every dealer for authenticity and quality. I just barely made the cut. I started writing press releases for JJ and, simply because JJ  was so much fun to work with, I gradually became more and more involved with promoting the show. In 2009, our family purchased the show.

Since 1998 I have also served as the staff writer for the magnificent Marburger Farm Antique Show in Round Top, Texas. This month I will write what is probably my 90th Marburger Farm press release, chronicling the cow pasture that became a blockbuster international antique show.

Before 1998 I was a Presbyterian pastor in New York City. While some ministers yearned to start shiny new churches, my passion was to re-develop old churches and to bring them into a new sense of mission and purpose, building on the best of their history and traditions and memories. I was lucky enough to serve two such churches over 19 years, the West-Park Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side and the Jan Hus Presbyterian Church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I can tell you a thing or two about antique plumbing, ancient boilers and how to help an old community find new life and end up dancing in the aisles on Easter Sunday.

I first learned about antique show promotion by organizing benefit shows for the church in New York City, with the help of Irene Stella and the Stella Show Management Company. The Stella team is, in my view, the best antique show promotion company in the world. Once again, I got lucky.

And now I find myself in the position of owning a 55 year old antique show in the town where I grew up. Or perhaps it owns me.

Why Antiques?
Over the last decade, there have wars and a recession. There are the threats of terror, wildfire and the darn $10 parking fee at Will Rogers Memorial Center. On top of all that, there are ads in every direction that scream “Out with the old! Buy something new, new, new.” Yet still, I got lucky.

Why? Because I get to spend my energies in the community of those who buy, sell, live with and love antiques and all things vintage. We are those who would rather re-imagine and re-make the old than lust after the new. We are the lovers and re-purposers of the material culture of the past.

On Christmas Eve a few years ago, we had a rare snowstorm in North Texas. In our old farmhouse on the prairie, the Orr-Harters were snowed-in. We could not get to the mall, even if we wanted to. We could not even go to my sister’s party where there was shrimp and tenderloin, which we definitely wanted to.

Still, we were lucky. Our home was warm and the snowy landscape cast a light into the house that helped me to see our old things in a new way. Except for our computers, the Orr-Harter family lives only with antiques. Even the TV is more or less an antique. From any spot in the house, I can see our history in the stories of each chair. At last count, we have 53 chairs, indoors and out, and I can remember where each one came from. We use them all, except for the 2 Danish Modern ones in the store-room that came from Tom’s mother. We have saved those for our young architect son.

On Christmas Eve, I sat by the fireplace in the rocker that we bought at a roadside flea market in Maine and carried home in a Honda Civic. I saw the mission settee that the future architect son bought so proudly at an upstate New York auction for $25, theoretically for his tree house. Our 10 year old daughter sat in one of the old chairs around the kitchen table. Tom and I were sitting in those kitchen chairs when we decided to try to conceive this very child.

In case you think we have only ample seating, on Christmas Eve I also studied each piece of vintage art on the walls--- the scene of trees and cows that hung over the sofa in my grandparents’ home, the metal Wonder Bread sign that I gave to mother and that she re-gifted to me, the big primitive painting of a cowboy playing a harmonica on his horse in starlight. I lugged it all over America before accepting that no one would buy it. So there it is in our kitchen; it reminds me of my still-harmonica-playing father. There is a hooked rug of a butterfly hanging on the living room wall and a seven foot tall bottle tree in the bedroom. With a collection of old cobalt blue Pepto-Bismol bottles, it is a memorial to a friend. When I wake up each morning, I see a 1950s poster of a cowboy on a bronc and a painting of trees that once read faintly on the back, “painted in exchange for lunch and overalls.” These things inspire me to seize the day.

I got lucky. I have the love of a sweet and healthy family and of friends and dogs who put up with me. And it all happens in a home where antiques are used every day, for both utility and for memory, for practicality and for comfort and joy. What I realized about antiques and art that Christmas Eve is that the comfort and joy that they bring us are in fact very practical and necessary. We have created a new nest out of old things. This comforts us. Bring on the snow.

That’s more than enough about me. Each week watch this blog for the inside story on the dealers, artists and customers who will bring the Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art to life for the 55th time, in a new way on March 2,3,4, 2018. You'll hear about experienced dealers re-thinking their buying for younger shoppers. You'll discover some new and upcoming dealers and see how they approach a 55 year old show with a new eye. You'll hear about our theme: Revive! Revamp! Renew!  You'll meet Sue Whitney, our special guest, queen bee of re-purposing and of something called "She Sheds." And much more.

Let us hear back from you. How do you love and live with antiques and art ---and why?
See you at the show March 2,3,4, 2018!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Center for Transforming Lives
2018 Benefit Booth
Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art March 2, 3, 4, 2018

The 2018 Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art welcomes the Center for Transforming Lives as a Benefit Booth at the March 2, 3, 4 Show at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The Center for Transforming Lives has itself been transformed from the oldest YWCA in Texas to a newly named, much more ambitious program to help women and children leave the cycle of poverty and homelessness for a future with stability, independence and hope.

It’s working! Their butterfly logos is the symbol of their goal for the over 2500 women that the Center has worked with in the last few years. Their plan is to help 10,000 women and children each year by 2023. Often, these women have survived settings of domestic abuse and find themselves homeless with children. In our beautiful Tarrant County, there are over 7,000 children under the age of six who are homeless---who sleep in homeless shelters or in vehicles or on the streets. The Center for Transforming Lives seeks to intervene with mothers and these children by providing housing stability, high-quality child-care and financial empowerment and training for employment, money management and other steps for helping a family overcome the trauma of homelessness.
        Original YWCA Elevator
                                                            The CTL Today

Over 100 years ago, the YWCA provided a safe, clean boarding house for young women trying to find their footing in early Fort Worth. Today the historic building provides an always-full emergency shelter for women and a booming child care facility for children aged six weeks to five years, available while their mothers work or seek work and training. The Center offers additional early childhood care and development programs with larger sites in the UTA Arlington area, in the Poly neighborhood, with more on the drawing boards. 

“We know that the stress of homelessness significantly impacts children, including child brain development,” says CTL Donor Relations Manager Ana Van de Venter, above
 “Providing early childhood education for homeless and low-income children is a crucial component of ending poverty’s vicious cycle.” Ana explains that sometimes education alone is not sufficient. The CTL answer: a two-generation approach. “Two-generation family services break the poverty cycle by helping the whole family achieve immediate stability, which leads to long-term independence,” says Ana. Critical to this strategy are financial coaches, social workers and Early Head Start family advocates who address each family’s most immediate needs.

How does the CTL do all of this? They do it by involving the Fort Worth community in creating businesses for CTL clients to receive training and to build support for CTL programs. These businesses range from a Salsa production company to the ReSale Shop on Camp Bowie Blvd. to the Triumph Catering & Events Company to the Historic 512 Venue Company that offers private, corporate and wedding space at the lovely 512 West 4th Street headquarters. All of these creative endeavors roll up their sleeves and work together to provide opportunity, employment and training.

The Center for Transforming Lives offers a holistic approach to recovery from poverty, homelessness or domestic abuse. It is not enough to provide just emergency shelter or just a job or just child care. As any parent knows, all of these things must work together for long-term success. In addition, the support and training that a family receives from the CTL will give them the tools and confidence that they need to cope with future challenges and stay independent. As Ana puts it, “We offer the whole picture.”

Plan to shop in the Center for Transforming Lives Benefit Booth at the Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art March 2,3,4, 2018. From salsa to vintage décor, with all proceeds benefitting the CTL. To donate items for the Benefit Booth, contact the Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art at 817-291-3952.

And today?
How can you help these families thrive now?

Donate a tax-deductible gift of any size at

Help the Center identify local jobs that TCL clients might apply for and receive training. This is a key to the whole process. Call Kim Clarke, Director of Family Strengthening Services at (817) 546-5542

The ReSale Shop!
Donate (and shop) all kinds of gently used items, jewelry and clothing for the ReSale Shop at 6500 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth. Open Mon. 10-5, Tues.-Sat. 10-6. To volunteer, donate or for furniture pick-up, call 817-377-0664. The CTL sponsors “Clean Out-Help Out!” in Spring 2018 as a community-wide effort to donate housewares, furniture and clothing.  See more info on items accepted at

Client Assistance and Encouragement!
Donate new or gently used items for clients such as pots and pans, furniture and cleaning supplies for apartments, as well as gifts, educational books and school supplies for kids. You can even “adopt” an emergency shelter room, providing paint, décor, full size or long-size twin sheets and bedding. Call Ana Van de Venter at (817) 484-1537 or Email:
(Due to safety recall issues, the CTL cannot accept donations of cribs, stuffed animals or toys.)

March 28 Annual Luncheon!
Sponsor the March 28, 2018 Transforming Lives Annual Luncheon (sponsorship are $2500-$25,000) Call Ana Van de Venter at (817) 484-1537 or Email:

Historic 512 Venue!
Host your next event at the 512 West 4th Street building –weddings, parties, meetings in a convenient downtown and beautiful setting. Contact 817-484-1544. See

Triumph Catering & Events!
Enjoy catering services provided by the CTL for private and corporate events of all sizes. Contact 817-484-1544  or 817-546-5546

Contact Ana Van de Venter at 817-484-1537 to join in a monthly tour of the CTL or for other information.

Learn More!


Thursday, February 23, 2017

From Ruffles and Bows to Harry Bertoia

Editor's Note: Enjoy this from Guest Blogger Diane Orr from a few years ago about making and loving a home 

By Diane Orr

James Herron Antiques, Fort Worth Show
 of Antiques & Art
John and I married in the fall of 1953.
For the record, October 3, 1953.
How mid-century can you get.

Daddy had given us some money and we spent it on shiny brand new hard rock maple Early American furniture. Oh, it was beautiful.

We packed everything in the feed store’s bobtail truck and drove to our first house, 706 Cherry, in College Station. All the houses looked alike and we were on a cul de sac.

I had milk glass for wedding presents, cranberry glass, blue and white Spode china. I found a calendar of antique cars and framed 12 pictures in small black frames. We had rooster prints and chicken prints to hang over the back of the couch. I Pennsylvania-Dutched every inch of the walls that weren’t already covered. John’s mother made muslin curtains for the windows with ruffles all the way down and bows for tie-backs.

Oh, it was beautiful. 


We met the architects.

They were our best friends. Tiny and Muff were with the fledgling CRS firm and Jim was a senior architectural student at Texas A & M.

Jim and Joan’s one room apartment had low slung beds and canvas director chairs to sit on. Joan was a potter and the dishes were all handmade. Jim built a huge wire and bamboo birdcage for a partition between the kitchen and the living room and a population of finches thrived.

Muff and Tiny’s house had plastic molded chairs around an oak pedestal table. There were canaries in Mexican cages, white dishes, Swedish Facette stainless flatware. Muff kept fresh flowers in a tall clear glass cylinder vase, more pottery everywhere and floor to ceiling windows that brought the woods inside.

I loved that house.

Before we moved back to Fort Worth, I had an Early American garage sale and neighbors gleefully hauled off everything. I waved a fond goodbye to rooster pictures.

There were four of us now and, to save money, we rented a small FHA duplex in a field of other duplexes and started over.

I bought two iron butterfly chairs with aqua canvas slings. We had a George Nelson Bubble lamp and Muff had given me a birdcage for the finches.

Mother gave us a four piece place setting of white Russel Wright dishes from Cox’s department store, $12.99 a set. We splurged on 16 pieces of Facette stainless flatware and two years later we built our flat top roof mid-century dream house in Wedgwood. Jim was the architect.

The closet doors were painted Frank Lloyd Wright colors. Jim could get a 50% discount then from Knoll and he ordered six wire Bertoia chairs for our dining room ($44.00 each). Mother kicked in again and bought us the round oak pedestal table like Muff’s.

For the living room, we had a high back Bertoia “Bird” chair in black and brown upholstery that rocked a little. But when the twins were born, I got an Eames molded plastic rocker. We were stuffed in that wonderful little house.

Then Thomas came and, with five children, we had to move.

Jim was studying at the time under Louis Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania. For his masters project, he designed us the most exquisite house I have ever seen, five cubicle bedrooms for the children, nestled in the hill of the lot we bought.

He made a model of the house and the grounds and I worked for two years trying to get someone to build it. The foundation bid came in more than the whole budget, but I wouldn’t give up.

When Mrs. Tibbit’s obituary was in the paper, a friend called John and said her house was for sale in Park Hill under a trust. The family wanted a quick sale. John called the young bank trustee, inquired about the price, and bought the house over the telephone.

He was a little sheepish when he came home and told us. “You don’t have to live there,” he meekly said.

The neighborhood, however, was perfect, good schools, close in. You could buy big old houses cheap then. Mrs. Tibbit’s house was built in 1928, solid Oklahoma rock, two stories high with a red tile roof, turrets and a basement. The front was covered with cemetery Cedars. I would call it dismal. Besides, it had only three bedrooms.

Then came Mariana.

Mariana was an architect in Fort Worth who lived in a mid-century house of her own design. I went over to meet her. There were pre-Columbian figures and pots stashed everywhere and all built-in furniture. The cups for tea were handmade, the teapot elegant. A ficus tree and ferns dominated the living room.         

Mariana made the inside of our fortress mid-century modern. We’ve been here 46 years I think and the Noguchi lanterns hanging in every room are fragile to the touch. The six Bertoia chairs are each one broken at the same stress point. I should tell Harry. We have a Corbusier chair in the living room and an Eames chair so old the leather seat is crackled white. As you can tell, I’m a sucker for big names. The desk top that I am writing on now is the same Formica slab that was our coffee table in the little house.

Jan found for us at Canton, in a box of hotel utensils, 30 or 40 pieces of the Facette stainless. The Russel Wright has grown to 20 place settings and I gave both girls the fancy wedding china.

We have spent a fortune re-caning Bauer chairs but it was worth it. The bamboo blinds on all the windows have a soft patina. Stainless hinges are on the old doors.

Mariana made the garage our den and the room attached to the garage the boys shared. An oversized carport pulled it all together.

There are worn Navajo rugs on the floors. There are tansu chests for our clothes. Being an English teacher by trade, I cherish every forlorn paperback. The walls are bookcases. I bought 12 white Luxo lamps when Tonny Foy closed his business. For $20 each. We use those to read and work by.

A few years ago, we took the low ceiling out of the garage and put glass in the eaves and added a small loft. I hate to say it, but it looks like a cathedral. Mariana’s son Brian did that.

I’m even embarrassed to tell you, but there is a Corbusier feathered canvas sofa in the future. At 80 years old and 83 years old, we love to live in this house.

I wish everybody had a house to live in that they love. 
Gordon Harrison, Fort Worth Show
 of Antiques & Art

Editor’s note:
The story continues several years later, with new Noguchi lanterns ordered from the Noguchi Museum in New York, an architect for a grandson and finally the feathered Corbusier sofa, after only a few tries. The Bertoia chairs are used every day. They are still cracked at the stress point.       

Friday, February 17, 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fort Worth Show Benefit Booth - Friends of the Fort Worth Public Library

Word Play! That’s the theme of the March 3,4,5 Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art. Words on art, words carved on wood, engraved on silver, sewn onto textiles, embossed on a tiny thimble or emblazoned on a vintage sign.
And there will be words in books! Lots of books! 

The Fort Worth Show welcomes the Friends of the Fort Worth Public Library as our 2017 Benefit Booth.  Their booth will offer a huge used book sale, with bushels of books for bargain lovers.  

“The Friends” is a membership group that has supported the Fort Worth Library System for over 50 years. Through paid memberships, their public book store and well-shopped book sales, they raise funds for hundreds of library programs at branches throughout the city. They help fund library computer equipment and classes, as well as the “Worth Reading” program which encourages year-round reading by youth and adults. They sponsor the Texas Literary Hall of Fame to honor Texas writers.

While the Library has a Library Foundation for large grants and gifts, the Friends of the Library offers a grassroots community of support.

Bunny Gardner, president of the Friends of the Library, gave me a tour of the 50,000 square foot book store run by Friends volunteers at 5332 Trail Lake Dr., just south of I-20 near Old Granbury Rd. She said it was one of the largest Friends bookstores in the US, processing over 250,000 donated pieces a year.

You can tell that Bunny’s background is in retail: the store is pristine, bright and well-organized with current titles priced to sell. There are pleasant areas to sit and read, a sales counter and an entire back wing for processing donated books.

At Friends book sales several times each year, an annex facility is set up like a library for people to buy books.   “It’s a lot of work to sell a book for $1. That’s why we work with volunteers,” says Bunny. Some of the volunteers at The Friends store are retired from a profession or a corporation. I met Paul, a volunteer who has a trucking company, and who will be transporting the books for sale to the Fort Worth Show. Thank you, Paul!

Items for the sale include:  

--Children’s books, non-fiction, history, art and interior design 

--21 boxes of western and Texana books from the collection of historian and collector Doug Harman

-- a 1911 set of Encyclopedia Britannica in its original shelf 

--New and like-new books for gifts, graduations & weddings    
--Two vintage boxed sets of the Oxford English Dictionary, with the original magnifying glass that came in the drawer at the top of the case. Tiny Print! Plus, The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester, which tells the odd, odd story of the formation of the OED, involving an American writing from an asylum.

--In addition to thousands of books, the Friends will also sell new photo scrapbooks, gift items, gift certificates and donated antiques.  

Bunny's favorite book in the store today? All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, winner of the Rome Prize, a novel about a young French girl going blind in the midst of violence and resistance in Europe during WWII.

At the Fort Worth Show you will receive an invitation to the Friends April book sale and an opportunity to help support your public library. Follow The Friends at

Book Store Hours:  Wed, Thurs, Fri, 10-6   Sat 10-5
5332 Trail Lake Dr. just south of I-20 at Old Granbury Rd. Fort Worth

In another time, my mother would drop me off at the old downtown library. I would descend the stairs into Children’s Department and hours later emerge with a stack of checked-out books as big as I could carry. I can still remember the good smell of new books in the old library. These days libraries get by with a lot of help from their Friends.

Shop the Friends book sale in the Benefit Booth at the Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art, March 3,4,5, 2017 at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.